Program Spotlight- Strength & Conditioning

Strength and conditioning (S&C) is an expanding field and a new academic program. Any exercise science major can register in the S&C program and gain access to concentration courses focusing on theoretical knowledge and practical skill development. This program was chosen as a model for the Integrated Learning Project (ILP) because it brings together many important core values while providing students with interdepartmental learning opportunities. Principal S&C faculty member Dave Diggin and program coordinator Gary Sforzo are leading the S&C ILP task force. The goal of the curriculum is to provide students with the requisite knowledge and practical skills to excel within the S&C profession.

In development for four years, the S&C program’s curriculum was unveiled in 2015–16 with a philosophy emphasizing practice-based learning. Students complete several practicum courses, a mentorship class, two fieldwork assignments, and a semester-long internship for more than 800 hours of applied study over four years. The principle is doing more and sitting less. Most courses are designed so that students learn by practicing after getting information about basic skills. These are flipped classrooms in the truest sense. Of course, all this practical work is supported by a strong foundation in exercise science courses such as Biomechanics, Exercise Physiology, and Sport Psychology.

Perhaps the most exciting part of the new S&C program is the collaboration between our departments of exercise and sport science and athletics. New facilities, new staffing, and new ideas make possible a partnership serving our students and all athletes on IC sport teams. Under the supervision of third-year head strength and conditioning coach Vic Brown, S&C students are able to work with athletes on campus, making for an undeniable real-world experience. This meaningful and functional collaboration was forged several years ago when Thomas Swensen, ESS department chair, and Susan Bassett, athletic director, discussed possibilities. Soon after, Brown and Diggin were hired to implement the vision.

New philosophies, new programs, new faculty, new partners, new facilities—these are exciting times for the Department of Exercise and Sport Sciences! Contact Professor Sforzo at if you’d like more information.